A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Eighty-two years ago around 200 men set off from the Tyneside town of Jarrow to march to London. The reason for this was to protest at the closure of Palmer’s shipyard that had affected everyone’s livelihoods in the town. Calling themselves crusaders, they were carrying a petition to the government of day asking for a new industry to be created in the town. Back in the 1930’s it was nothing like it was today, the world was in a global depression, there was the rise of right-wing political interests, a stark north/south divide, food banks and indifference from the political elite; err hang on…
It is through modern England that Stuart Maconie wants to retrace the march that the Jarrow Crusaders followed stopping in the cities that they did, seeking the places that supported them with food and provisions, seeing how many people know of anything about their story and to take the pulse of a just post-Brexit Britain. Whilst some things remain the same, there is a lot that has changed in the UK in that short period of time; gone are the big industries, mines and manual jobs that the north relied on and in their place are service jobs, disillusionment and high unemployment.
Maconie is one of those guys who can talk to almost anyone and in this book he does, from waiters to mums, healthy debates in pubs and even gets invited to an event with the leader of the opposition. He is prepared to say it how it is, how even now the north still is massively underfunded compared to the south-east of the country, how the London bubble distorts the economy and how there is much more community spirit the further from London you get. As usual, he writes with deft humour and his keen eyes observe the subtleties as he moves through the country at walking pace. As some have complained about the number of times he has mentioned food in previous books, he takes special care to ensure we know exactly what he has eaten. So you will read about a few curries, several beers and the odd dram or three and one of the best pork pies he has ever eaten. This is another thoroughly enjoyable book from Maconie and if you have read his others you will almost certainly like this.